Frankie and Matt are two teenage boys that frequent King’s Convenience. They stop by during their school lunch break, on their way home from school, sometimes in the evenings after supper, and even in the wee hours of the weekend night shift.
The two boys are the most unlikely of friends. Frankie is short and slovenly, awkward and yet kind-hearted and friendly. Matt is taller and slender, with blond hair, blue eyes, good looks and a trendy haircut and clothing that should make him popular in high school, but he suffers from peer imposed exile due to his erratic and sometimes violent behavior.
Frankie’s kind ways occasionally have a positive, calming effect on Matt, providing glimpses of the better person Matt could be. The reverse is also true: Frankie sometimes gets influenced by Matt’s mischievousness and self-destructiveness.
Both boys have found solace and companionship at the convenience store.
I’ve given up on finding artists interested in bringing Convenience to life in sequential storytelling format. I don’t think there’s enough in these stories to catch an artist’s attention. Stories about a bunch of workers and customers at a convenience store isn’t as sexy as superheroes, horror, action, and adventure. These Convenience stories might make good comics, but they’re the kind of comics you’ve got to draw yourself, and, well, I can’t draw a straight line with a ruler. The characters and story ideas won’t stop knocking around in my head though so I’m going to put them down in prose format. First up, more characters.
Lanis – She’s a tall woman in her late twenties. She’d be even taller if she stood straight, but four years of being a tall woman behind a low counter, working a cash register, counting change and bagging purchased goods has put a permanent roundness in her shoulders. She’s a blond, a real blond, and typically wears her hair in an uninteresting cascade. Possessing little natural beauty, wearing loose fitting clothing and a dour expression, Lanis is an asexual being when at the convenience store. After hours, she’ll dress up, dabble in face paint and is, in general, a far more affable person. She likes cigarettes, scratch tickets and reality TV.
Greg – The manager, but not the owner, Greg works every weekday from 7am to 3pm. He’s creeping up on the 40 year threshold, but bad habits (smoking, drinking, drugging, wanton humping) have aged him. He sports a beer belly of considerable size, and is cursed with a sloppily receding hairline that he attempts to hide with creative hair combing. He sings in a local cover band, a gig that provides him with ample amounts of the two things he likes most: Dirty women and alcohol. He has a wife and a son. He doesn’t like them very much.
King’s Convenience typically has at least a half dozen employees on its schedule, a combination of full-time and part-time, with full-time employees typically being 25 or older, and high schoolers and university students filling the part-time positions. Convenience will– at least at the onset– focus on the backshift employees, specifically three guys, one of which is full-time Sunday to Thursday and the other two part-time Friday and Saturday. Narrowing the focus even further, the first tales out of the gate will involve the two weekend employees, Little Dave and Kevin. With that said, the full-time backshift employee will often visit King’s Convenience during the weekend backshifts because he keeps to the “sleep all day and up all night” schedule required to survive five backshifts a week.
Dave – Just Dave, never Big Dave or David even though the other Dave is referred to as Little Dave. Dave is a full-time employee, currently 31 years of age. Dave is a lifer in that he enjoys the job, the people he works with and the customers he interacts with on a regular basis, thus he is content to remain where he is with no aspirations for bigger and better. But don’t misjudge him as a slacker. He’s not a slacker. This is very important.
Dave is of middling height and of no noteworthy build other than to mention he does possess the beginnings of a belly. Dave shaves occassionally, but never wears a full beard or anything so trendy as a goatee or similar. His hair is mildly curly, thinning along the top and never fully combed and tidy though whether that is by choice or dictated by genetics the reader will never know. It is definitely genetics, however that are responsible for his snaggled teeth.
Dave’s wardrobe consists of battered blue and black jeans, tired sneakers, and a series of t-shirts, with the black ones featuring his favourite heavy metal and hard rock bands, the most prominent of which is Led Zepplin, and the occassional hockey jersey worn when he wants to incite controversy and engage in arguments with the patrons. He’s also a fan of the black leather vest, though it should be noted it is never worn with a hockey jersey.
He fuels himself on cigarettes and four extra large Tim Horton’s coffees. He lives at home, but pays rent.
Little Dave -Short in stature, Little Dave is in his early twenties, half-heartedly attending university after a couple years of doing not much this side of high school graduation. Listless, directionless and yet determined to do something with his life even if he has not yet fully decided what that something is. His only discernable passion is comic books and video games, and later sex once he gets his first taste.
Dave’s attire consists of green army pants, tattered jeans, sneakers or jack boots, and a collection of short and long-sleeved shirts of no special note. His hair is cut short in the back, but worn long in the front, most often tucked back behind the ears or hidden beneath a non-descript ball cap worn backwards.
Kevin – Little Dave and Kevin are of the same age and share a history defined by shared school years. Kevin, however, is tall to Little Dave’s short, lanky but not awkward, slender but not waifish, lean but not muscled. He’s been at King’s Convenience for a number of years but has his eye on a different future post-university. The backshift gig is simply required to pay for school and keep his piece of shit car on the road. His hair is short yet wavvy at the top and front. He wears glasses. He keeps his interaction with the patrons to a minimum relative to Dave and Little Dave, but he is far more the people watcher and contemplator. His clothes are tidy and comfortable. Drunk women in the store make him uneasy.
All contents © 2007 Chad Boudreau
Convenience is set in a 24-hour convenience store. It’s called King’s Convenience because it exists on King’s Road, a major artery that traverses an area of our fictional city that is a bridge of sorts between the downtown / commerical district and the subburbs. King’s Convenience exists in a short strip mall, taking up the majority of the business space, with a local sub shop at one end, a small party supply store on its other side, and a fresh seafood shop finishing off the other end of the strip mall.
King’s Convenience is actually modelled after a real convenience store in Sydney, Nova Scotia where I worked backshift (11pm to 7am for more than five years– almost two years of high school and four years of university). When Convenience becomes immensely popular we don’t have to worry about fans finding and invading the real store to get their pictures taken in front of the infamous rack of porn mags because the store no longer exists.
The store was open 24 hours a day, 7 days a week, 365 days a year. Yes, it was even open 24 hours on Christmas Eve, Christmas Day, New Year’s Eve and New Year’s Day. And since it was the only convenience store (and probably only business) opened on these holidays it was always busy on those days. It should be noted this was a store owned and operated locally. It was not part of a chain of stores like Macs or Needs, which meant employees didn’t need to wear uniforms, and the owner and manager were able to do whatever they wanted in terms of how the business was run and how employees were hired, fired and managed.
It was a large convenience store, with a varied stock, but some of its core offerings were as follows: cigarettes (priced higher than most places in town, which pissed some customers off, but then again at 3:00AM your options are limited), bread, milk, chips and snacks (its two-for-one chocolate bar bin was almost as legendary as its magazine rack), magazines (largest selection of porno and non-porno in the city), pop and other cold drinks, ready-made pizza burgers (very popular after the local bars closed), movie rentals (including adult material), and popcorn (made fresh each day). The store was then rounded out with all manner of lesser purchased but still stocked items like canned food, greeting cards, medicine, comics (on a spin rack), condoms, film, toilet paper and cleaning supplies. The majority of these, with the exception of the comics (which were changed weekly) and the condoms (which were hot sellers on weekends) were sun bleached and covered in a perceptable layer of dust.
It is my hope the store itself becomes a defining character in Convenience.
All contents © 2007 Chad Boudreau
It has always been my hope some aspiring artist (or artists) would come across this here blog, read about Convenience and see it as a good opportunity to gain some experience in collaborating with a writer, and perhaps even as a chance to get some finished product published.
It never happened.
And yet something similar did happen. At the 2006 ComicReaders.com Christmas Party (which features the “Crappy Comic Book Exchange”), I learned one of our on-again-off-again reviewers was also an aspiring comic artist. We got to chatting over beers and greasy food and decided we could try to collaborate together. A few weeks later I showed him a few sample scripts and pointed him to my Web site (the precursor to this blog), and he was taken by the idea of Convenience.
Time passed without much progress, but a couple weeks ago this artist and I hooked up over a beer at a local establishment and made a commitment of sorts to get this ball rolling. For me, the magical age was 30. I was approaching 30 and said “Fuck, look at all this time that has passed and you’ve got a thin portfolio of published fiction. That’s a goddamn shame and a disappointment if you call yourself a writer.” I was 29 at the time, and am now just recently 31, and in the year or more since that inner chastisement and promise to do better, my portfolio of published works isn’t any thicker but I’ve been writing a whole lot more, have a completed graphic novel under my belt, won a couple small comic script writing contests, and have started a few comic collaborations. All in all, enough success to keep me confident, enough success to keep me writing.
For the aspiring artist, 31 was the magical age. And as I looked through his sketchbooks that night over a cold glass of beer, I could see his potential and recognized that a couple of his styles would work well with Convenience. (Yes, he’s one of those talented buggers that has a few different styles in his repertoire.) So, we made a pact of sorts, one of those agreements that can only occur over cold beer, a shared disgust for the the time that has passed and a hope to make better use of the time that is still available.